Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Is there a financial aid counselor assigned to me?

All students at the college are assigned to a professional financial aid counselor according to the first letter of the student's last name.  Current caseload assignments are listed below.

 

STAFF MEMBER FIRST LETTER OF LAST NAME
Nancy Bessette, Financial Aid Officer B through E
nbessette@ric.edu  
Kristen Eastwood, Assistant Director A, F, G, and W through Z
keastwood@ric.edu  
Kenneth Ferus, Associate Director S through U
kferus@ric.edu  
Debora Gray, Financial Aid Officer N through R, and V
dgray@ric.edu  
Janet O'Connor, Associate Director H through M, and PEP Program
joconnor@ric.edu  

 The above assignments do change periodically so you should check this page on at least an annual basis. 

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How is my financial need determined?

Most of the financial aid available at Rhode Island College is based on financial need. Financial need is simply the difference between your cost of attending Rhode Island College and the amount that your family is expected to contribute towards that cost. Your cost of attendance depends on such factors as whether you plan to live on campus or commute and whether you are a resident of Rhode Island or another state. Enrollment plans for full- or part-time study will also influence your cost of attendance and your eligibility for assistance.

Your family contribution is based on an analysis of the information that you provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This analysis uses a Federal Methodology (FM) that has been mandated by the federal government for use in awarding federal student aid. The analysis considers a number of factors, such as taxable and nontaxable income, family size, the number of family members in college, and certain assets like savings and investments. The analysis is designed to estimate a family's capacity for absorbing educational expenses over time. It is also designed to treat families with similar financial circumstances in similar ways, and families with different circumstances in proportional ways. As such, it is more complicated than a cash flow analysis, which would simply match current expenses to income.

Cost of Attending Rhode Island College

Less: Family Contribution

Equals: Financial Need

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How is my financial aid package developed?

Financial aid comes in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and part-time employment. Summary information on the various student aid programs is provided under Financial Aid Programs on the Home Page. The combined total of all awards made to an individual student is called a financial aid package. In some cases an award letter may only contain an award from one program; in others the award letter may list several programs. The mix of awards is based on a number of factors. These include your level of financial need, academic record, year in school, state of residence, and date of application. The college attempts to package financial assistance to meet 100 percent of demonstrated need. However, we cannot guarantee that all applicants will have their full need met. This is especially true for late applicants.

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Are the amounts on an award letter firm commitments?

Since an award letter may show estimated awards from federal and state sources, the college cannot guarantee that you will actually receive all the amounts indicated. For example, reductions in state grant formulas are sometimes made well after award packaging has been completed. The college can neither anticipate these reductions nor adjust Rhode Island College awards to make up for them. In addition, award estimates are only as accurate as the information that you provide on your application. If you submit inaccurate information, it may be necessary to revise your financial aid package after the Verification process is completed. The college reserves the right to require documentation of all reported information and to withdraw or adjust awards that were based on inaccurate or incomplete information.

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How do I use my financial aid to pay for my books?

If you have financial aid which exceeds your direct charges (i.e., tuition, fees, room and board), you may be eligible to receive a line of credit towards your purchases in the Rhode Island College bookstore.  If credit is approved, the amount will be applied to your Campus Card (i.e., college ID card).  You then use the card in the bookstore to purchase books and supplies.  You may apply for a bookstore line of credit online through RIConnect under the Campus Finances section for Self Service at www.ric.edu/technology/online.php.  You must have a RIConnect ID to use this service.  Applications are accepted one week before the start of each semester, and the application period closes after the semester has been in session for three weeks.  Many student aid refunds are available by the first week of each semester, so an alternate approach would be to wait for the refund and use it for book expenses.

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What if I receive financial assistance from outside the College?

You are responsible for notifying the Office of Student Financial Aid directly in writing if you receive any other financial assistance that is not listed in your award letter. Additional financial assistance would include (but is not limited to) the following: merit- and need-based scholarships and grants, tuition and fee waivers, tuition remission, need-based student employment, and long-term student loans.

If you receive additional financial assistance, the College reserves the right to revise or cancel its awards as necessary. The college encourages students to take the initiative in applying for outside financial assistance. Whenever possible, outside assistance will be first used to reduce the loan and/or student employment components of the financial aid package. However, due to the entitlement nature of such forms of assistance as Federal Pell Grants, state scholarships and grants, tuition waivers, and tuition remission, these forms of aid will normally be used to reduce the grant portion of the financial aid package.

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How is full time enrollment defined?

At the undergraduate level, full time enrollment is defined as a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester. For financial aid purposes, there are no exceptions to this rule. Some financial aid programs, such as academic scholarships, require recipients to be enrolled full time while other programs allow recipients to be enrolled half time. The federal Pell Grant Program has specific award levels for full time, 3/4 time, half time and less than half time enrollment.  While taking 12 credits per semester is considered full time for financial aid purposes, in order to graduate in four years, students need to take an average of 15 credits per semester to reach the minimum required 120 credits for a baccalaureate degree.  Following a plan of 15 credits per semester saves both time and money in extra semesters and tuition.

Undergraduate enrollment categories are shown below:

Full time = 12+ credit hours per semester

3/4 time = 9 to 11 credit hours per semester

Half time = 6 to 8 credit hours per semester

Less than half time = Below 6 credits per semester

At the graduate level, full time enrollment is normally defined as at least 9 credit hours per semester. However, students holding graduate assistantships may be considered full time for assistantship purposes while enrolled for at least 6 credits per semester. Half time enrollment at the graduate level would require at least 4.5 credit hours per semester.

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What if I need to repeat a course?

Federal regulations allow repeated courses to be included in determining financial aid enrollment status as long as there is not more than one repeat of a previously passed course.  If a previously passed course is being repeated more than once, credits for the course will not count in the determination of financial aid enrollment status or cost of attendance.  For example, a student who enrolls for 12 credits while repeating a previously passed 3 credit course for the second time would only receive financial aid as a 3/4 time student.  All repeated courses as well as the original attempt are included in determining satisfactory academic progress.

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What if my enrollment or housing plans change?

Virtually all financial assistance awarded by Rhode Island College is limited to students who are enrolled at least half time (six credits per semester) in a degree program. Your financial aid package will be based on the housing plans that you report on the FAFSA. The assumptions used to develop your financial aid package will be listed on your award notice. If any of these assumptions change, your financial aid package will probably need to be revised. For financial aid purposes, enrollment status is normally verified at the end of the Add period each semester, but any change in enrollment during the course of the semester has the potential to affect your financial aid eligibility. You should contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to discuss any changes in enrollment or housing plans.

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Will my scholarship be canceled if my enrollment drops below full time?

Many scholarships require that students be enrolled full time to receive the awards.  Examples would include Presidential Scholarships, Faculty Honors Scholarships, Foundation Honors Scholarships and RI Academic Promise Scholarships.  Enrollment status each semester is determined at the end of the first two weeks.  This is often referred to as the Add/Drop period.  You are charged for the number of credits that you remain enrolled in at the end of this period.  As an undergraduate student, if you are enrolled for at least 12 credits at the end of the Add/Drop period, you will be considered as a full time student for scholarship purposes.  If you subsequently withdraw from a course after the first two weeks, you will still be considered full time for scholarship purposes and no tuition charges will be refunded.

There is one exception to the above policy.  If you withdraw from all courses for the semester, both the charges and the financial aid may have to be prorated as explained in the question on this topic below.   In addition, it is important to remember that most scholarship programs are limited to a total of eight semester payments.  To complete a typical RIC degree program in eight semesters, you would need to complete an average of 15 credits in each semester.

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Will my financial aid be renewed?

All financial aid awards, with the exception of some academic scholarships, must be reapplied for each year. There is no automatic commitment to a renewal of your financial aid package. The deadline for renewal applicants is March 1 prior to the following academic year. You are also required to maintain satisfactory academic progress in your program of study in order to be considered for continued financial assistance. Standards of satisfactory academic progress are explained in our web site sections for Prospective and Current Undergraduate Students.

During the freshman year, when academic success is at greatest risk, students receive the highest possible level of grant and/or scholarship assistance. As you progress through your college career, the percentage of loan and/or Federal Work-Study employment in the financial aid package will likely increase and the grant percentage will decrease. In addition, renewal levels of financial assistance may vary due to the changing nature of federal and state regulations and funding levels.

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What happens to my financial aid if I withdraw from school?

Withdrawal from school is defined as complete withdrawal from all classes during the period of enrollment. Dropping one or more courses is not considered a withdrawal from school if you remain enrolled and continue to attend classes for at least one course. If you do not successfully complete at least one course each semester (i.e. you receive final grades of W and/or F for all attempted courses) you will be considered as an unofficial withdrawal at the mid-point of the semester unless you can document a later date of academically-related activity.

Federal regulations specify how the college must determine the amount of federal student aid that you earn if you withdraw from school or cease attendance (i.e. unofficially withdraw). The student aid programs covered by these regulations include Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Direct Loans and PLUS Loans.

When you withdraw or cease attendance during your period of enrollment (i.e. regular semester or summer session), the amount of federal student aid that you have earned up to that point is determined by a specific formula. If you received (or the college or your parent received on your behalf) less assistance than the amount that you earned, you may be able to receive those additional funds. If you received more assistance than you earned, the college and/or you must return the excess funds.

The amount of assistance that you have earned is determined on a pro-rata basis. For example, if you completed 30% of the semester, you earn 30% of the federal assistance that you were originally scheduled to receive. Once you have completed more than 60% of the semester, you earn all of the assistance that you were scheduled to receive.

If you did not receive all of the funds that you earned, you may be due a post-withdrawal disbursement. If the post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds, you may choose to decline the loan funds so that you don't incur additional debt. The college may automatically use all or a portion of your post-withdrawal disbursement (including loan funds, if you accept them) for tuition, fees, and room and board charges. For all other school charges, the college needs your permission to use the post-withdrawal disbursement. If you do not give your permission, you will be offered the funds. However, it may be in your best interest to allow the college to keep the funds to reduce your debt at the school.

If you receive (or the college or parent receive on your behalf) excess federal student aid program funds that must be returned, the college must return a portion of the excess equal to the lesser of

  1. Your institutional charges multiplied by the unearned percentage of your funds, or
  2. The entire amount of excess funds.

The college must return this amount even if it didn't keep this amount of your federal student aid program funds (i.e. the money was refunded to you).

Any amount of unearned grant funds that you must return is called an overpayment. The amount of a grant overpayment that you must repay is half of the unearned amount. You must make arrangements with the college or the Department of Education to return the unearned grant funds.

The requirements for federal student aid program funds when you withdraw are separate from the refund policy at Rhode Island College. Therefore, you may still owe funds to the school to cover unpaid institutional charges. The college may also charge you for any federal student aid program funds that the college was required to return. The Rhode Island College refund policy may be obtained directly from the Bursar's Office or on-line at Outside Linkhttp://www.ric.edu/bursar/refunds.php.

In the case of institutional grants and scholarships, the awards will be pro-rated in accordance with the percentage of institutional charges canceled. For example, if 50% of your charges are canceled, 50% of your institutional grants and scholarships will be canceled.

Treatment of grants and scholarships provided by the state governments varies by state. In the case of the Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Authority, grants and scholarships are pro-rated in accordance with the percentage of tuition charged. Students from other states should contact the Office of Student Financial Aid regarding specific adjustment policies.

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Are there any other options to help me meet expenses at Rhode Island College?

Many families find it easier to pay college expenses on a monthly basis rather than all at once at the start of each semester. The Monthly Payment Plan at Rhode Island College allows you to make semester payments in four monthly installments. Under the plan, your financial aid from grant, scholarship, and loan programs is deducted from your semester charges for tuition and fees (plus room and board if you are a resident student). The remaining balance is then divided into four monthly payments of 25 percent each. The first payment is due before the start of the semester, and the remaining three payments are then made on the 15th day of each month thereafter. Participation in the plan is on a semester basis. The cost for the service is $35 per semester. For additional information, contact the Bursar's Office at (401) 456-8634.

There are also long-term financing options that are not based on financial need. The Federal Direct PLUS Loan allows parents and graduate students to borrow up to the full cost of college less other financial aid received. Applicants must pass a credit review in order to qualify for the loan. Repayment may be deferred for up to six months after the student is no longer enrolled at least half time. However, interest does accrue on the loan and is capitalized into the loan principal before repayment begins.  As of July 1, 2013, the interest rate is fixed at 6.41 percent. Federal Direct PLUS Loans have an origination fee of 4.204 percent.

To apply for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan, both the FAFSA and the Rhode Island College PLUS Request Form must be completed.  This form may be downloaded from the forms page of our web site at www.ric.edu/financialAid/finforms.php.  This form advises the office of Student Financial Aid of the amount you wish to borrow and authorizes the office to initiate a credit check with the federal processing service.  Once credit is approved, the college will originate the loan and request that you complete an electronic Master Promissory Note (MPN) online at the Federal Direct Loan web site.

There are also a number of private Alternative Loans available from various lending institutions. These loans are based on ability to repay rather than financial need. Although students apply for these loans in their own name, a cosigner is usually required unless the student can demonstrate an income history that would be sufficient to repay the loan. Most Alternative Loans do not require repayment while the student is in school. However, interest does accrue on the loan and is capitalized into the loan principal before repayment begins. Students may borrow up to their full cost of attendance less student financial aid.

Recommended lenders and comparison information may be viewed on our Alternative Loan page at:  http://www.ric.edu/financialaid/recPrivateAltLoans.php

Rhode Island College does not require lenders to provide any special benefits to the college or the financial aid staff in order to receive our recommendation. These lenders have been selected on the basis of their quality service, competitive interest rates, and ability to handle automated processing which is compatible with our information system. There are many different alternative loan products on the market. We believe that our recommended lenders offer some of the best loan products in the business, but we do not claim to have evaluated all lenders and all alternative loan products. You are free to select any lender or loan product that you wish. If you select a different lender or loan product, we will do our best to process your loan as quickly as possible. However, if your selection requires us to use a manual paper process, the approval and disbursement of your loan will likely take longer.

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What is the cumulative undergraduate indebtedness for students graduating from Rhode Island College?

The average cumulative amount borrowed by undergraduate students who started at Rhode Island College as first-time students and graduated between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014 was $25,567.  This includes federal, state and private student loans that were borrowed while enrolled at Rhode Island College.  It does not include parent loans and loans borrowed while enrolled at other institutions.

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Page last updated: Nov. 14, 2014